Cambridge, MA — The excitement picked up this afternoon as the snow began to fly at the Women’s National Team Championships. Defending champions Trinity and top-seeded Harvard will meet in the 2015 Howe Cup final, a rematch from last year’s championship.
A Division (Howe Cup): The Howe Cup semifinals delivered the drama. Given that Trinity had beaten Penn 5-4 during the regular season, it had looked like those two teams were destined for a nail-biter. But the closeness of the Harvard-Princeton match was something of a surprise. When Harvard played Princeton in January, the Crimson had won 7-2 — at Princeton. Top-seeded Harvard was back at home, and the last time the Crimson had hosted the Women’s National Team Championships, they had marched to the national title. But going into the final flight of matches, the Tigers were up 4-2, a match away from a trip to the national championship final. Wins from Amanda Sobhy at #1 and Michelle Gemmell at #4 helped the Crimson even the score at 4-all, and all eyes turned to the #7 match between Harvard sophomore Dileas MacGowan and Princeton junior Tara Harrington. MacGowan roared out to a lead and took the first game 11-5, followed by a decisive 11-3 win in the second. Harrington came back with renewed focus in the third and looked like she had the edge over MacGowan. The Crimson sophomore hung on to take the game to tie-breakers, ultimately winning 13-11.
Going into the final flight of matches, Trinity and Penn were tied 3-all. The Bantams had wins at #5, #8, and #9, while the Quakers took #2, #3, and #6. Penn’s Melissa Alves won at #4, and Trinity’s Kanzy El Defrawy won at #1 to keep the score even at 4-all. The match came down to the #7 contest between Trinity senior co-captain Natalie Babjukova and Penn junior Camille Lanier. Bajukova took the first game, and Lanier came back to take the next two, winning the fourth in tie-breakers. Babjukova’s short game clicked in the fourth game, and her 11-7 win took to the match the five games. Up 9-2, it looked like Bajukova had the match in her hands, but Lanier wasn’t done. She climbed back, chipping away at Babjukova’s lead point by point. The Trinity senior wasn’t having it, and she pumped her fist in joy when she sealed the 11-6 win.
Last year’s championship final between Trinity and Harvard was a thriller, coming down to the final match. Tomorrow’s match promises to be a great one.
B Division (Kurtz Cup): Dartmouth and Stanford, the top two seeds in the B Division, advanced to the Kurtz Cup final. Dartmouth commanded the middle of the order against Williams, taking #4 through #6 in three games each. Wins at #1, #7, #8, and #3 — a five-game victory by Lydie McKenzie over Williams’ Ellie O’Neill — sent the Big Green into C Division final. The final score was Dartmouth 7, Williams 2. Brown made Stanford work hard for their 6-3 win. The Cardinal swept the top five matches, but the #4 and #5 matches both went to five games. Brown senior tri-captain Katherine Elliott-Moskwa won the #6 match in five games, but in the end, Stanford took the team win with six matches to the Bears’ three. Tomorrow’s matches in the consolation bracket have been cancelled due to the weather.
C Division (Walker Cup): Amherst was the first team to advance to the Walker Cup final. While the Jeffs won 7-2, Colby put up a fight; six of the matches went past three games. Bowdoin swept the first flight of matches in their semifinal against Hamilton and didn’t look back, clinching a spot in the final before the second flight was over. Tomorrow’s consolation final and the 19th/20th-place playoff match have been cancelled.
D Division (Epps Cup): Boston College and Georgetown were closely matched in the D Division consolation semifinals, but the Eagles pulled out the 5-4 win over the Hoyas. Johns Hopkins prevailed over Haverford in the other consolation semifinal. The Blue Jays’ win was the last in the consolation bracket, as Sunday’s D Division consolation matches have been cancelled.
E Division: Dickinson has been making the most of their first trip to the Women’s National Team Championships. The CSA’s newest varsity program defeated Wash U 8-1 in the E Division semifinals. After Rochester withdrew from the tournament, Smith College advanced to the consolation semifinals, where they defeated Colgate.
F Division: The F Division round robin was scheduled to continue later this afternoon.